Theology, Inferiority, Racism
This intellectual history focuses on racism: discriminatory concepts and practices that produce, accompany, or follow the (fictive) idea of race. The author identifies inferiority as a primary category of analysis, arguing that the creation of a hierarchy in which one group represents itself as superior to another constitutes a necessary element of racism. Attending to the tropes of subordinating differentiation helps trace racism’s history in drawing a line from medieval forms to contemporary white supremacism. The figural concept of cursed Jewish slavery developed in medieval Christian theology serves to construct racial inferiority. The introduction stresses the importance of theology in the history of race: the many studies of medieval discourses that articulate racial identities for Jews and Muslims do not focus on the theological texts from which these constructions emerge. Medieval Christian theology creates a status of hereditary inferiority, a concept that continues to shape modern racism.
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